I received this book at no cost from the publisherPlanet Earth Is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos
Published by Wendy Lamb Books on May 14, 2019
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Fiction, Historical, Middle Grade
“Tender and illuminating. A beautiful debut.” –Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me
A heartrending and hopeful debut novel about a nonverbal girl and her passion for space exploration, for fans of See You in the Cosmos, Mockingbird, and The Thing About Jellyfish.
Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger–it’s the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.
While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can’t express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova’s new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she’s counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she’ll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, “No matter what, I’ll be there. I promise.”
In astronomy, Nova means a star that suddenly becomes thousands of times brighter and then gradually fades to its original intensity and Nova is fascinated by the stars and space. After moving from one foster home to another with her sister, Nova finds herself abandon when her sister Bridget disappears. Since Nova is autistic and nonverbal, people don’t realize that she can actually think but just can’t communicate what she thinks that her sister will return since she promised to watch the Challenger liftoff which will occur in just ten days.
The story is told through alternating chapters of flashbacks and Nova’s letters to Bridget that become increasinhly worried about Bridger and her return. The story is heartbreaking and what is even worse, no one understands Nova and what she is ‘scribbling” in her letters. What could have been a devastating story to read, brings out the good in people that are trying to help Nova relate to the world and understand her.
The author does an amazing job of explaining autism, the excitement surrounding the Challenger and that life isn’t what it should be but that some people make a difference. I think this story will spark some important discussions in middle-grade children and help develop some empathy about those that are different in their abilities to communicate. This story could have been heartbreaking but ultimately is hopeful.
Nicole Panteleakos is an author, playwright, thespian, and Ravenclaw. Her debut novel PLANET EARTH IS BLUE (Wendy Lamb Books, Penguin Random House) will be out in bookstores nationwide on May 14, 2019, with a second middle grade novel to follow in 2020. She is represented by agent Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates and belongs to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: Metro NY. She is also a Lifetime Member of the VFW Auxiliary and National Home for Children, a godmother of three, and a regular contributor to Nanny Magazine. When not writing, she can usually be found reading fanfiction, playing board games, doing community theatre, or adding to her Alice in Wonderland coffee cup collection.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of PLANET EARTH IS BLUE, US Only.
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